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Public talk to shed light on Hohi Mission

Public talk to shed light on Hohi Mission

The findings of a two-year archaeological research project looking at New Zealand’s first permanent European settlement will be presented by Dr Ian Smith at a public lecture at Kingston House in Kerikeri on February 9 (4pm).

Dr Smith – Associate Professor of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at Otago University – will present ‘The Archaeology of New Zealand’s First Mission Station – the results of two seasons: Fieldwork at Hohi.’

The talk is the culmination of research and archaeological investigations of the Hohi (also known as Oihi) mission site in the Bay of Islands that took place over the two-year period, and subsequent analysis of information gathered throughout the project.

The excavations took place in early 2012 and 2013, and were led by Dr Smith together with research fellow Angela Middleton with support from the University of Otago, the Department of Conservation and the NZ Historic Places Trust.

“The excavations uncovered significant archaeological features that have added to our understanding of the Hohi mission and the people who lived and worked there – as well as those who were impacted by the mission,” says Dr Smith.

“There was a good deal of public interest in the excavations at the time they were being undertaken, and the public talk will provide us with an opportunity to report back on what was found and what we have learned.”

As well as talking about some of the features uncovered during the archaeological investigations, Dr Smith will also shed light on New Zealand’s first permanent European settlement, and give insights into what life was like for the Church Missionary Society missionaries and Maori at the time.

“During our time in the field we uncovered the site of New Zealand’s first school for example – a modest-sized classroom – and other features including a Maori-style whare,” he says.

“We also found the remains of what is likely to have been the house of missionary Thomas Kendall and his family, as well as artefacts like ceramic shards, glass, a coin dating from 1806 bearing the profile of George III, and gunflint – evidence that muskets were present at the mission.”

Information from a range of contemporary written sources including letters and
journals helped inform the archaeological work at Hohi together with contemporary illustrations, including a painting by 19th Century artist Augustus Earle.


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